The middle of the 18th century saw a fundamental change in the musical life of Leipzig. As Johann Sebastian Bach gradually retired from the public concert venues, his former students began to introduce new repertoires that were significantly influenced by the most advanced styles from all over Europe. The beginning of this development was marked by the arrival of an Italian opera troupe during the Easter fair of the year 1744. Before the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) put an end to this development, other vocal ensembles from Venice followed, presenting to the Leipzig audiences and fair visitors for the first time original compositions by Johann Adolf Hasse, Christoph Willibald Gluck and Baldassare Galuppi.
In the first volume of his study, Manuel Bärwald offers a broad survey of the sources documenting this development, including numerous new discoveries. He draws a detailed picture of the changes brought about in the city’s musical life by Pietro and Angelo Mingotti’s opera ensemble and the troupe of Giovanni Battista Locatelli. Their performances at Leipzig not only had direct consequences for the local musicians – who generally helped out in the orchestra pit – but also lastingly influenced contemporary opera criticism, particularly that of the Gottsched circle.